Monthly Archives: February 2013

How to Decide Whether to Have Another Baby

February 27, 2013

baby number 3, another baby?, deciding on another baby, how to decide on another baby, questions to consider before new baby,How do you decide whether to have another baby? This is an intimately personal choice, everyone and every circumstance is different, of course, but the kinds of things that go into this decision are often quite similar.

Even though this is such a private choice, often outsiders offer unsolicited input. Nick and I always knew we wanted three children. We had a girl and two years later, a boy. Then when I was pregnant with our third baby, someone actually said to me, “Oh, why would you do that? You have the perfect family!” Um, seriously? You have your perfect family, I’ll have mine.

There is so much that goes into family planning decisions. It’s tough to sign up for another pregnancy when you look ahead at going through sleep deprivation, being tied down for nap schedules and managing babyhood, all while ALSO dealing with the needs of toddlers and school-aged kids.

Maybe you feel that things are going smoothly now, well, usually. Your kids are walking on their own, maybe they’re all even going to the bathroom by themselves. Nap times are extinct, diaper bags have been donated and you’re sleeping through the night (most of the time). So it’s hard to think about going back to square one just when you’ve really got a rhythm to your daily life.

My younger brother once said of growing families to Nick, “Everyday, you guys are moving closer to freedom and everyday we’re further away.”

If you’re struggling with this decision, you’re not alone in your conflicted feelings. I’d venture to say that most women and couples explore the idea to have another baby at some point. It’s a modern day battle between head and heart, between practicalities and emotions.

Music for Newtown

February 25, 2013

music for newtown logo, Music for Newtown, sandy hook elementary, tim mcgraw, republic records, beth bogdan, heart musical noteMoved by the horrors in Newtown, Connecticut, our hometown, my sister launched Music for Newtown. She works for Republic Records who is sponsoring the online auction which will take place March 25 – 27, 2013.

After December 14, Beth, like so many who called Newtown home, felt drawn, and returned to Newtown. She talked to the First Selectman’s specially organized committee, the administrators of the United Way of Western Connecticut, as well as the superintendent’s office and Newtown Social Services to determine where needs exist.

There was an incredible, immediate outpouring from people wanting to help, but the needs continue. Many of the affected families are out of work and struggling financially. Resources are needed for ongoing counseling services and eventually for building or rebuilding, depending upon what is decided for the future of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The United Way of Western Connecticut has waived their administration fee so that all of the proceeds from the auction will benefit Newtown needs through the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. Beth has been pulling together resources and the music industry is rallying for the cause.posters for Newtown, signatures for Newtown, 3 Doors Down, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, guitar donations, signed guitars,

The Family Car

February 21, 2013

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.
Carla explains the idea behind Mom Before Mom: “So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first?
My hope is to make this a community effort. To gather a group of women, writers, storytellers who are eager to write from the heart and share themselves. So I invite you to join me.”

I’ve accepted her invitation, see the Mom Before Mom category for more of my posts in this series:

How did you get your name?
How did you celebrate childhood birthdays?
What was your childhood bedroom like?
What was your favorite home cooked meal?

This week’s prompt: What kind of car did your family drive? What played on the radio? Where did you sit? Take us on a road trip.

sunny road, learning to drive, 70's cars, driving in the 70's, Carol and Paula, The magic garden, yellow vega, Do you remember Paula and Carol on the kids show, The Magic Garden?

As soon as I read this prompt, the first thing I thought of was my Mom’s OLD yellow Vega with wood paneled sides. My sister, Beth, and I would pull the seat belts from the front (did they even make seat belts in the back in the 70’s?) and we would make swings out of them. We’d sit on the straps pretending to be long-haired, guitar-playing singers. The yellow Vega, good times.

The next family car I remember is another imitation-wood paneled mobile, a green station wagon, in which we all begged to sit in “the way back,” the third seat that faced backwards. No one was buckled in. We’d sometimes even stand up behind my Dad driving and rub his shoulders or sit on “the hump” in the middle of the floor of the back seat.

In later years, my Mom drove Hondas and my Dad drove Buicks, though there was the impractical, sporty white Mazda RX7 that my Mom loved until she got stuck on a steep hill with the standard shift! That was a fun car, not a family car.hide and seek moon game, moon games, car games, siblings in the car, kid distracting in car, driving with kids, moon through the trees,

On night drives, Beth and I would look out the windows and play a hide-and-seek kind of game with the moon. “Moon, moon, come out, come out, wherever you are,” and we’d search for it on different sides of the car as we followed the winding roads.

Behind the car memories that make me smile, I have a hazy vision of using the seat lines to divide up space between my brother, sister and me. These were creases that could not be crossed without peals of “Ma-om! He’s on my side!”

One car had an 8-track player and we’d listen to Tony Orlando and Dawn, The Carpenters, and Bobby Vinton. Or we’d talk. If he wanted to talk with us or instill some wisdom, my Dad would pull one of us aside with the invitation that was really a directive, “Let’s go for a ride,” and we’d slip out together. Many a talk of life, boys, problems, or praise happened driving along with my Dad. He still does that now (but no longer drives Buicks).

I sat in the front seat at some point, certainly younger than we let our kids, and my Mom used to shoot her arm out across me when she was stopping short or someone cut her off. She knew it wouldn’t do anything to really save me, but it was her automatic mother-reaction. In her car, she’d tote us around and deliver Meals on Wheels.

My Dad always upgraded to the latest model car with the newest gadgets. He had an early model “car phone” installed in one car, it was like the one in the movie Sixteen Candles that was wide and thick and awkward, but it was SO COOL!

8 track tape, 70's music, orange 8 track, The Carpenters, Buicks, old car phones, green station wagons, third seat in family car, Driving on longer trips, my parents would sometimes find an oldies station and would shout out the names of the songs and dig into their memories for the names of the singer or band. I laugh at that so often as Nick and I now blare songs from our youth and subject the kids to shouted choruses and name that tune. At least our songs aren’t “oldies.”

They’re not, right?

Growing up, our cars, much like a kitchen in a home, were central to family life. Functional transportation, yes, but really, community on wheels.

KOTO – Know One Teach One

February 18, 2013

koto hanoi, hanoi restaurant, paper lanterns, white paper lanterns, globe lightsA year ago this month, my Mom and I took a trip of a lifetime together to Vietnam and Cambodia.

Before the trip, my daughter selected the book Noodle Pie by Ruth Starke for our mother-daughter book club, it takes place in Hanoi. I read it before leaving to be sure I could bring back relevant details and photos for the girls. KOTO is highlighted in the book and it was on my list of places I had to go to.

In one of those law-of-attraction moments, on our first night in Hanoi, only hours after landing, our guide gave us a run down of the next day. Quang told us the itinerary has “lunch on our own” scheduled but he hoped we didn’t mind that he had made a reservation for us all to eat together at a place called KOTO. My jaw dropped, I gasped and I flung my head to look at my Mom who understood my excitement.

Perfect! I would be taken directly to the one place not on the official tour that I wanted to see.mother daughter traveling together, traveling with your mom, vietnam tours, odyssey tours, southeast asia travel, visiting vietnam,

The Meaning of Valentines

February 14, 2013

stack of hearts, paper hearts, homemade valentines, valentine hearts, craft hearts, make your own valentines, colorful hearts“What was Valentine’s Day originally for? For sharing love?”

That’s what our third-grader asked as she glued hearts onto her shoebox Valentine mailbox for school. She had just finished gleefully and proudly writing out Valentines for her classmates. She’s the third child so she gets store-bought Valentines now. I found cute ones that she loves, but I laugh and shrug at one more thing that I’ve let go of as the years pass: Homemade Valentines.

When the kids were younger, they created exuberantly, sitting among construction paper hearts, white lacy doilies (with all the little teeny flakes that fall out as you pull them apart) and scraps of pink, red and white. They rubber stamped cupids and hearts and Valentine’s Day wishes, they decorated rectangles into book marks and glued and glued and glued.

I drew the line at glitter. Have you ever tried to clean up a glitter spill? It will never ever actually completely go away, you will still see glitter at Christmas and in time for the next Valentine’s Day.

As my Mom did growing up, each Valentine’s Day, our tradition is to have a special family dinner. I’ll set the table homemade valentines, making valentines, what do valentines mean?, why do we send valentines?, valentine mailbox, doilies, valentine doilies, in the dining room with linen napkins, candles, Valentines and a small package at each place, a new book for each kid. I don’t make my own cards either, I buy my Valentine’s, too. (I’m a Hallmark girl – I love buying and sending cards!)

I savor selecting the perfect cards. For Nick, I often choose several. This year, I mailed a funny one to his office and he’ll have another waiting at dinner. I’ll find Valentines at my seat, too. Those poems and pictures lovingly made at school that warm my heart and the one that makes my heart flutter as I catch my husband’s eye across the table.

Our Valentine’s Day is about all of my sweethearts: the man I married and the three I birthed. We don’t need February 14th to ourselves, other evenings, Nick and I will have our date nights. But tonight, we’ll reminisce about our first Valentine’s Day together 20 years ago and we’ll enjoy our kiddos and family time.

valentine love letter, love letters, sealed with love, wax seal on letter, hand written letters, red wax seal, sealed envelope, romantic letter, While the old-fashioned, nostalgic fun of making your own Valentines has perhaps seen it’s day in our house, in the end, it really doesn’t matter. Valentine’s Day is about the intention and the thought. It’s about acknowledging and appreciating our friendships and relationships.

At eight, Anna said it perfectly: Valentine’s Day is all about sharing love, however you do that.

 

 

 

Color Code Your Kids

February 13, 2013

pink and blue bowls, orange bowl, cereal bowls, cheerios left over, kids favorite colors, parenting tips I color code my kids.

After having enough of counter tops full of glasses, I got everyone a unique, special glass that identified them. Each day, each kid would (ideally) use only one glass. All we really drink is water and it has helped limit that full-top, un-full bottom dishwasher issue.

Then, I kept coming to the kitchen finding half eaten bowls of cereal, I was throwing away so much every day, but it wasn’t always the same kid leaving it behind, so I bought cereal bowls that matched the kids glasses colors. Ali, blue, Michael, orange, Anna, pink. (Michael loves green but his glass had orange glass goldfish into it and thought it was cool, so he’s become orange.)

Now at least I have an idea who to speak to about leaving Cheerios soaking and soggy.

I need to color code my kids towels next. You’ve heard me rant about continually finding towels on the floor. There are hooks RIGHT THERE! I call kids back again and again, interrupting them from whatever activity they’re involved in, hoping that eventually they won’t want to be disturbed and will just hang up their towels. Nope! Hasn’t worked yet.

I often hear, “I hung mine up!” as I stare at a floor-full of white towels and empty hooks. So that’s fairly easy to tell that NO ONE did it, but there are times that there’s no way to know the culprit if a few towels end up on the towel rack.

This works with mittens and hats, and I’ve heard of people color coding socks, each kid gets all one color sock. Ifish glass, goldfish glass, glass wtih fish, orange fish, gold fish with spots, i-Stuff suppose that makes laundry easy and would work with young kids. As kids get more fashion-aware, though, most won’t want to always wear pink socks, and clearly blue socks don’t go with black pants. Could I even find orange socks if I wanted to?

We recently added a new way to color code my kids. With all the i-Stuff in the house and all the corresponding cords and plugs, we’ve covered each kid’s chargers with a colored duct tape (found this idea on Pinterest, I’ve pinned in under Things to Do) and it’s already minimized the, “That’s my charger,” disagreements over the exact same cord!

Do you have any ideas to color code your kids?

Celebrating Childhood Birthdays

February 8, 2013

This is my fourth post in the Mom Before Mom series started by Carla at All of Me Now.

This Week’s Prompt: How did you celebrate your birthday?

Happy Birthday Leah, Birthday cake, decorating a birthday cake, kids birthday cakes, pretty flowered cake, peach flowers,Like in last week’s Mom Before Mom post about favorite home cooked meals, my Mom was central in making birthdays special growing up. She baked, decorated, planned, wrapped, hostessed and cleaned up after.

Most of my memories of my earliest birthdays are from faded square pictures. My friends and I all dressed in frilly pink party dresses, a cardboard throne decorated for the birthday girl, streamers, balloons and presents.

My birthday is in early November, so as I got older, I often had Halloween-themed birthday parties. Decked out in costumes, my friends would arrive and between autumnleah's birthday, 1970's birthdays, old birthday photos, pink party dress, birthday girl games, my Mom would lead us through a mini haunted house in our finished basement. We loved the nervous feeling and giggled nervously as she told us a legend, blind-folded, and we had to step over imaginary creatures, touch unknown brains and we somehow ended with our face in a plate of flour, I wonder if she remembers how the story went.

Even for my sleepover parties, my Mom planned games like dressing up relays. One year, I remember my Dad getting angry because some of my friends dressed my little brother up as a ballerina and then tied together the pink tights at his feet. I got in trouble, but it still makes me laugh!

As a Mom, I really don’t love slumber parties, but for my birthdays, just like my kids now, I always wanted to have a pajama party. My friends and I would line up in our family room and do the hustle to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. (Can you guess how old I am?)

Introducing Happify :-)

February 6, 2013

happify trademark, happify logo, what is happify?, so do I get happy?, happiness projectIt’s finally time to introduce you to Happify! Two months ago, I was invited to try out Happify and provide honest feedback as I used the site and now Happify is open for new users! Check it out here.

Happify is a cross between a new social media, an interactive game and a shared (or private) gratitude journal. The site is based on scientific studies of happiness that show that what we DO makes a difference in how happy we are in life. Through quizzes, games, prompts and activities, participants on Happify learn ways, and take actions, to be happier and to better appreciate things in their lives.

There is an initial assessment of how happy you already are. I’m pretty happy by nature, so I wasn’t out looking to get happier, but it’s also important to actively do things to nurture my own happiness. I have really enjoyed doing these small activities as a reminder to slow down and appreciate just how much I have in my life.unlock your happiness, happiness skills, happiness test, studies on happiness, how to be happier, blue brain, join happify,

Starting out, users select a track to follow. You can choose from things like: Enjoy Parenting More, The Art in Happiness, Talkers and Listeners and Nurture my Body and Soul. You’ll then have different activities opened to you each day. If you’re gung-ho and ready to do more, there is also a skills section where you can do more activities. I completely cracked up one day when I just kept doing more and more activities and a message came up that congratulated me and addressed me as “You’re an over-achiever!” Hilariously on target!

There are five main skills and all the activities fall under one of these: Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give and Empathize. As you work through different tracks (here’s the video game-like part) you earn gold or silver for completing tracks within certain time frames, and you move up different skill levels as you finish and “Happify” activities.

You’ll do guided activities with prompts like, “Take a walk with a camera,” “Mix things up,” “Give a small gift,” and suggestions for doing and reflecting on what you did. Some things are silly like trying to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand to try to shake things up in your normal routine, while other things might be more sentimental, pensive, or celebratory of you or someone else. Some activities are quick, some you make a plan and pledge to do it then report back after you’ve done it. At any point, you can click and read the science behind the activity, the “Why it Works.”Happify, the science of happiness, studies on happiness, brain with gears, colorful gears, what is happify?, happiness assessment,

You can post pictures with certain activities either from your Facebook photos, Happify stock images or by uploading something from your computer, here the posts look a little like Pinterest with social interaction features for liking and commenting.

I’ve been enjoying my time on Happify. It’s nudged me to really mull things over, to cherish the everyday ho-hum stuff and to share my happiness in different ways. It’s challenged me to recognize and acknowledge my positive impact on others and to consciously live according to my values. Give it a try!

 

** The opinions stated here are my own and I was not required or asked to write a review, only to use the site. As a pioneer tester of Happify, I received a t-shirt and a copy of the DVD “Happy.” **

 

 

Girl or Boy? Guessing A Baby’s Gender

February 4, 2013

girl or boy, guessing baby's gender, sex of a baby, Are you having a girl or boy? How many times did you hear that when you were pregnant? You’re carrying all in front, you’re having a boy! You have heartburn? Oh, definitely a girl!

We hear this sort of reasoning so often in America that it seems completely normal or believable, but like other folklore around the world behind guessing a baby’s gender, it’s not based in anything factual.

Baby’s position, the color of grandma’s hair, the heart rate or shape of Mom’s belly are all individual factors which have no bearing on the baby’s sex, but we like to believe and accept some of our silly predictors. What do people in other countries use to guess girl or boy?

Favorite Home Cooked Meal

February 1, 2013

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.
Carla explains the idea behind Mom Before Mom: “So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first?
My hope is to make this a community effort. To gather a group of women, writers, storytellers who are eager to write from the heart and share themselves. So I invite you to join me.”

I’ve accepted her invitation, this is my third post in the series.
Last week’s post: What was your childhood bedroom like?

This week’s prompt:
What was your favorite home cooked meal as a child? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents and sights and flavors.

salmon with asparagus, salmon dinner, kids eating fish, getting kids to eat vegetables, healthy snack ideas, healthy dinner ideas,My Mom cooked homemade meals every night. We ate at the table my Dad built. My parents, my sister, brother and I each had our own spot at the table, literally and figuratively.

We had our seats, but we also had our say. More than the food, I remember the discussions, the laughing, the problem solving, and the sharing that happened around that table. We devoured side dishes of daily check ins, gobbled up glimpses of business decisions when my Dad purposefully told stories from the office. We were fed lessons from the news along with our green beans and explored family values and decisions.

On the nights when my Dad was on a business trip, we would get visits from an imaginary Italian woman, Granny Fanny Nesserole. My Mom would slip into this persona and accent while we tumbled into fits of laughter.

My Mom made dinners special. It was usually our job to set the table, but some nights, she would set the table in an extra special way, with flowers, candles, pretty china and she would serve an appetizer before the main course. On Valentine’s Day, we would come to the table and each find a card and small package wrapped in green salad, wooden salad bowl, family dinner traditions, pass the salad, tomato salad, mom before mom, pinks and reds.

We always had a salad with dinner. My Dad would ask for the salad bowl when we were all done and he’d eat the rest right out of the serving bowl. Sure, we learned manners at the dinner table, but that was his thing and we thought it was normal. One night, I remember my Mom was serving liver (back in the 70’s when it used to be healthy) and my Dad, before taking a bite announced, “If that’s what I think it is, no one touch the salad!” A bit of family lore.

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